Choosing Clothes to Match Your Coloring

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Thursday 14th October 2010
In this article
  • What are "color wheels" and "seasons theories?"
  • Figuring out your best colors.
  • Avoiding color fads.

Ever had one of those days when everyone said you looked great? It may have been the color you were wearing.

"It’s amazing what the right color can do for a person’s look," says Marcia Levake, an image consultant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "While one shade can make your skin look pasty and red, another can make it look creamy and flawless."

You’ve probably heard this before: the colors of the shirts and jackets you wear can make a big difference in how great you look, regardless of fit or fashion. Check out the SharpGrooming scoop:

Spin the Color Wheel

The "color wheel" idea first came about when image consultants used a "wheel" of colors to match the right colors to a person's skin tone. Now that wheel has evolved into colored fabric samples that are draped over customers to find the perfect colors for them by taking into account skin, hair and eye colors.

According to Wendy Helmers, a certified image consultant and national trainer on selecting colors, the "Color Me Beautiful" method she uses on clients allows her to find the right colors for them every time. "I use test fabric drapes in the colors of the different seasons and place them under the face," she says. "Then I pay particular attention to how the color reflects off the face. I can analyze which colors make the face look heavy and older, and which ones make it look young and healthy.

"Seasons?" As, in, "winter," "spring," "summer" and "fall?" Yup.

Generally, your "season" is determined by your natural skin, hair and eye colors (pre-fake or baked tans and hair dyes). For example:

The "summer" color palette is made up of colors from cool pastels to cool medium shades, such as blue-greens and watermelon.

The opposite of the summer palette, the "winter" palette, is made up of jewel tones and bold colors like red, blue and true greens.

For "fall," the earth tone shades of falling leaves look best, such as brown, olive green, rusty red and beige.

"Spring" is made up of lighter, brighter versions of fall colors, like, peach, camel and ivory.

Two popular colors — black and white — aren't always "black and white" when it comes to incorporating them into your wardrobe. People with a summer color palette, for example, should generally avoid black. And, while variations of white, such as off-white and pearl, look good in the fall and
spring palettes, actual white only looks good on guys in the winter palette.

Choosing the SharpColors for You

When trying on clothing, look in the mirror and think, does this color really look good on me? Does this green bring out my eyes or dull my skin tone? Does this orange bring out the richness of my skin or make my face look red? If the answers to these new questions aren’t immediately obvious, keep asking them. Understanding what looks best on you is a skill that requires practice. Try these tips:

  • If you naturally have darker skin, brown eyes and dark hair, consider choosing winter colors. Avoid summer colors.
  • If you have olive or medium-toned skin, green or deep blue eyes, and light brown to dark blond hair, consider choosing fall or spring colors. Avoid summer and winter colors.
  • If you have pale skin, blue eyes and light blond hair, consider choosing summer colors. Avoid winter colors.

Need more help? For a complete evaluation of what colors look best on you, look for a color consultant in your area.

Color consultants analyze hair, eyes and skin to find their customers’ best colors. According to Marcia Levake, wearing the wrong clothes can make under-eye circles appear darker, can make hair appear "mousy" by hiding natural highlights, and can distort the skin tone’s appearance. "The right color can harmonize your whole look," says Levake.

Don’t Be a Slave to Color Fads

No matter how much you love a certain color, the chance of it being popular every season is pretty slim. The reason? Members of the International Color Authority meet twice a year to decide what colors will be "hot" for what season up to two years in advance, according to Cala Creek, a consumer information Web site. Seasonal fashion colors reflect the moods of the nation and world. The economic condition, state of war and peace, and environmental issues are all reflected in the colors chosen for a given "season."

For example, in 2000, designers began moving away from neutrals and into brighter colors. "People got really tired of drab colors — like gray — and wanted to spice things up a bit," says Linda Bunning, assistant manager of the Cotton Works library at Cotton Incorporated — a non-profit organization specializing in color and cotton fabrics. "It’s like a circle. Once a color is popular it needs to come full circle through different seasons before it’s popular again."

Make the Most of Your Looks

As much as we try to deny it, we human beings heavily rely on how we look, how others see us and how we see others. So, put your best face forward. Visit a color consultant, or simply pay attention to the colors you wear and the way they make you look and feel. Of course, then there’s the confidence thing — the best way to look your best.

This article last updated on Thursday 14th October 2010
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